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After taking a break, the CU Buffs women’s basketball team is back to practicing on the court

The players and coaches on the Colorado women’s basketball team would have definitely preferred to stay longer in Las Vegas last week.

The Colorado women’s basketball players and coaches would have preferred to stay in Las Vegas for a longer time last week.

Despite the double-overtime loss to Oregon State in the Pac-12 tournament last Thursday, the 18th-ranked Buffaloes found a positive in getting extra rest, which they needed.

CU junior Aaronette Vonleh said the break was much needed and it's nice to have time to relax and not think about basketball for a while, which she thinks will be beneficial.

After four days off, Colorado (22-9) resumed practice on Tuesday, focusing on conditioning and shooting.

Last year, the team had 15 days between the Pac-12 tournament and the NCAA Tournament. They used the time for rest, self-reflection, and focusing on the basics, which resulted in their best performance of the season, reaching the Sweet 16.

CU head coach JR Payne is hoping the team can replicate the success they had last year.

With no games this week and the next opponent unknown until Sunday’s NCAA Tournament selection show, the priorities are rest and self-improvement.

Payne mentioned the importance of being intentional about areas for improvement, as there are things that cannot be addressed in four days of practice and scouting for the next opponent.

The coaching staff is focused on their own team this week and not yet looking at potential opponents for the NCAA Tournament, emphasizing their ability to quickly turn around scouting reports due to their attention to detail and long hours of work.

Payne and her staff have not started looking at other teams yet, being solely concentrated on their own team this week.

The coaching staff is confident in their preparedness, having analyzed potential new strategies and feeling ready for anything due to their diverse schedule and playing top-ranked teams.

Payne believes that their schedule has prepared them for anything and that they need to focus on tightening up execution and communication.

Though the Buffs struggled in the last stretch of games, losing 2 out of 6, the close games against tough opponents were decided by minor mistakes.

This week, the main focus is on communication, as in close games, the team sometimes failed to execute the game plan accurately or had miscommunication on the court.

Ensuring the team is adept at practicing late-game scenarios and improving their communication is a priority to avoid costly mistakes, according to Payne.

Vonleh emphasized the importance of execution and rebounding this week, and also agreed that communication is a top priority.

She said, 'I believe we perform better when we're all in a good rhythm and in sync.'

The staff is also aiming to make the game plan simpler in the future.

She said, 'Instead of being okay at 25 things, let's be really good at 12 things.'

However, the rest was perhaps the most important factor. Payne mentioned that the season had felt very long and the players had been feeling tired.

'When you're this far into the season, having time off is not just for your bodies, it's for your mind,' said guard Sara-Rose Smith. 'I think the past four days after returning from Vegas have helped us reset and focus on the new season.'

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